"A guy like Da Vinci doesn't get old", said Loic Gouzer, Christie's chairman of postwar and contemporary art in NY.
Salvator Mundi, an ethereal portrait of Jesus Christ which dates to about 1500, is expected to sell for about US$100 million (RM421.9 million) at Christie's in November, making it among the most highly-valued works ever to be sold at auction.
The work sets off on a worldwide tour starting in Hong Kong on October 13 and will make stops in San Francisco, London and NY before being auctioned November 15.
Gouzer emphasized that the story is about the work itself, and, after noting at the press conference that there are fewer than 20 works by Leonardo known to exist, said, "Finding a new one is rarer than finding a new planet". It shows Christ in flowing blue robes while holding a crystal orb in his left hand and raising his right hand in a blessing, the Times said.
Experts believe that by 1900 it had been painted over, leading buyers to think it was a work by da Vinci's follower, Bernardino Luini.
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"It has been more than a century since the last such painting turned up and this opportunity will not come again in our lifetime". Despite being created approximately 500 years ago, the work of Leonardo is just as influential to the art that is being created today as it was in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Gouzer continued, "Salvator Mundi was painted in the same timeframe as the Mona Lisa, and they bear a patent compositional likeness. No one will ever be able to fully grasp the wonder of Leonardo's paintings, just as no one will ever be able to fully know the origins of the universe". The painting was originally recorded in the collection of King Charles and was long thought to be lost or destroyed until it was rediscovered in 2005.
The next reference to the work is in 1763 when it was in a sale organised by Charles Herbert Sheffield, the illegitimate son of the Duke of Buckingham.
"The Salvator Mundi is the Holy Grail of Old Masters painting", said Alan Wintermute, senior specialist of Old Master Paintings at Christie's. "The word "masterpiece" barely beings to convey the rarity, importance and sublime beauty of Leonardo's painting". - Picture courtesy of Christie's NY via ReutersNEW YORK, Oct 11 - The last privately owned Leonardo da Vinci painting and one of fewer than 20 by the Renaissance artist known to still exist is hitting the auction block, Christie's announced yesterday. It was sold at a Sotheby's auction in 1958 for a measly $60.
According to Poortere, "Salvator Mundi" - which measures 45x65 cm (26x18 inches) - was last sold to an unnamed European collector following a historic Da Vinci exhibition at London's National Gallery in 2011-12. "To see a fully finished, late masterpiece by Leonardo, made at the peak of his genius, appear for sale in 2017 is as close as I've come to an Art World Miracle".